Chris Sanders (pictured), sales director at Radnor Hills, urges wholesalers to tap into the sales potential of school and hospital-compliant soft drinks.
Around 50% of our business is now cash & carry and delivered wholesale trade. Up until about five years ago it was around 25%, so it has seen significant growth, as has our overall company turnover.
How are you looking to develop your business through the wholesale trade? Which customer sectors are you specifically targeting? (For example, retail, foodservice, education, hospitals, licensed.)
We are looking to expand and develop in all of the above sectors. In the retail sector we have a really strong children’s lunchbox offering as well as our premium adult soft drinks range, Heartsease Farm.
We are market leaders in school-compliant drinks for the education and foodservice sector, having recently launched our Tetra Pak range, offering a drink suitable for primary and secondary schools in 125ml, 200ml and 250ml cartons. We have also developed a wide range of CQUIN (NHS) compliant soft drinks suitable for hospitals.
Our portfolio of products also includes a selection of on-trade specific drinks that offer premium quality. Our Heartsease Farm range is included in this, and in January we will be relaunching the drinks with a new label design and reduced sugar content – making them even more appealing to the licensed sector.
Have cash & carries tapped into the specific requirements of educational establishments and hospitals with regard to healthier soft drinks? How does this compare with foodservice delivered wholesalers that are used to these specific customer needs?
We have found that cash & carries have taken a little longer to catch on to the need for healthier soft drinks in hospitals and especially school-compliant products. One reason for this is that cash & carries have always historically stocked the classic carbonate brands and have not always branched out into the new and exciting options that are available to them. Booker is the latest cash & carry that has listed our school-compliant ranges in its depots and they are selling extremely well.
How can cash & carries improve their sales of ‘healthier’ soft drinks?
Point-of-sale material in cash & carries can be an important way of delivering strong messages. Not everybody knows what a school-compliant product is, how much sugar it contains, and what the minimum and maximum sizes are. When making school-compliant drinks there is an extra set of rules we must adhere to. With the right advertising it will make it a lot clearer for the customers to know what they are buying.
Similarly, what more can delivered wholesalers do to increase their sales of these drinks?
The biggest obstacle we find is wholesalers not necessarily jumping on board with new flavours. As a company we spend a lot of time doing market research and in schools delivering taste tastes. We have even developed a specifically designed taste test app for our drinks so we can keep up with market trends and develop new products based on our findings. We try to be as creative as possible but often new listings can get blocked. We would encourage all wholesalers to be creative with their soft drinks ranges and not just stick to core brands and flavours.
Are there any cash & carries or delivered wholesalers you wish to highlight as being particularly progressive?
Dunsters Farm (a foodservice wholesaler based in Bury) recently visited our site here in Powys. They brought their entire sales team to our factory and they had a tour, learnt about the heritage of our company and really got a feel for what we do. We have worked with Dunsters for around nine years now and have built a great relationship with them. We would encourage any other wholesalers that work with us to come and see what we do and how we get their delivery to their door.
How will the forthcoming tax on sugary soft drinks affect your business?
We have adapted very quickly. We had two of our premium ranges that contained sugar, as this was the best option for us to get the great taste that we wanted. However, we have worked a lot now with stevia, and we will be looking to reduce the sugar in all of our products and keep them below the 5% mark.
Is there anything else our readers should know about Radnor Hills’ operation or strategy?
Over the last six years we have really expanded our sales team as our sales and customer base have grown. For us it is all about building strong relationships and working closely with our customers to deliver the right product, at the right price, at the right time.
Tel: Radnor Hills (01547) 530220